January 22, 2022

Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) Receives $5 Million Grant From Arcadia

From the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library:

Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, has awarded a $5 million grant to the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University. This is Arcadia’s third grant to HMML and the single-largest gift to HMML in its 56-year history.

This five-year grant focuses on digitization, archiving and cataloging of endangered manuscript collections outside of Europe. These digitized materials will be freely available to worldwide users through HMML’s online Reading Room. This latest grant includes “future-proofing” the digital images by establishing a fund for perpetual archiving of each terabyte of data created in the project.

The new grant ensures that HMML will be able to respond quickly to urgent needs throughout the world for the preservation of endangered handwritten culture, complementing support from generous individuals and foundations for the many facets of HMML’s work digitally preserving manuscripts.

Father Columba Stewart, OSB, HMML’s executive director, said, “We are deeply grateful for this remarkable and transformative grant from Arcadia, an organization that shares our commitment to preserving culture and providing open and free access. We are in a race against time to save threatened manuscripts around the world, and thanks to Arcadia we will have resources at the ready to meet this daunting challenge.”

While HMML began its mission with projects photographing primarily Latin manuscripts in Western Europe, in the past two decades its scope has expanded, now crossing multiple cultural, religious, and linguistic boundaries. HMML is currently working with preservation partners in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Manuscript communities in Gomitogo, Mali

Meeting with manuscript communities in Gomitogo, Mali, near Djenné, where HMML is currently working.

In announcing this grant, Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, co-founders of Arcadia, said, “We are delighted to continue to support the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library’s digitization work. Since our first grant to HMML, ten years ago, we have seen it grow to become an unparalleled digital repository of manuscripts, containing some of humanity’s most revered texts. The vision, dedication and innovation of Father Columba and his team ensure that these treasures of knowledge are safe and freely available, to explore and inspire, for generations to come.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.